Years & Years Debut Album “Communion”
After being Named the BBC’s Sound of 2015, Years & Years have seen the inevitable breakthrough that comes from the award, with the likes of Adele, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J and Sam Smith all receiving it in years prior going onto huge mainstream success since.
Five years ago, the trio were more of an indie band than synth-pop producers, using live instruments such as drums and guitars and touring quaint and small venues around the UK. However, their transition towards house music with soul and emotion has given them a real point of difference, sitting on the fine-line between electronic music, emotional ballads and pop. Which is what makes their debut album, ‘Communion’ so intriguing.
Their first released single from the album, “Real”, takes a deeper approach from their biggest tracks, with harmonic, bellowing synths underlying the finer elements, with subtle guitarist and kick-drums accompanying rhythmic claps. The love-desiring lyrics and soft tone of Olly Alexander overlay the construction to surge the mystical track towards the forefront of your attention, prompting a sort of trance-like effect,
While only peaking at 140 of the UK singles chart, their next single “Take Shelter” has racked up over 25million views on Youtube alone. The more simple, native track has a slower underlying melody, focusing more on the strong vocals. The emphasis on all the tracks elements creates a slower atmosphere, playing in sync with the lyrical content, one where Olly’s cryptic metaphors and blurred emotions come to the forefront.
“Desire” takes a more future-house infused tactic, with a progressive, funky bass-line overlaying the high BPM. The songs high tempo and sharper synths reflect the lyrics confused state, a parallel that Years & Years seem to have nailed throughout the album. With fewer lyrics and more harmonic backing vocals, the tracks electronic nature becomes prominent, giving multi-talented bassist Mikey Goldsworthy and synth player Emre Turkmen greater spotlight for appreciation
“King” is undoubtedly their biggest single, debuting at number one in the Uk and since going platinum. And for good reason. It’s sort of a culmination track for the album, drawing upon elements of the three singles before. With a soul-searching synth progressive, a high tempo yet slower melody, Alexanders ‘messy’ emotive voices seems to tie all the elements together, reflecting the complex nature of the lyrical content for the persona.
Their latest release, “Shine”, takes a slightly different reacting the 4 prior. Debuting at number two, the song reflects the trio’s ability to cover a whole spectrum of sounds from their juggling act of electronic, pop, and emotion. With many layers carried by the soft beat and melody, the varied layering within the song are able to align with the lyrics emotive state, emphasizing the close relationship between all 3 members musical contribution to the track.
However the album isn’t filled with high tempo electronic chart toppers, with the likes of “Foundation“, “Without” and “Memo” taking a far slower, sensitive angle, like The Weeknd is renowned for, and “Eyes Shut“, “Worship” and “Gold” having elements of their artistically crafting, indie roots. Then finally rounding off the album are “Ties” and “Border” which bring an almost united feel, begging for choral input and crowd interaction.
The broad tastes of the trio are reflected within the album, enabling their strong skill set to be exploited to its fullest. With Olly Alexander’s transcending emotional state in the songs bringing meaning to the cryptic metaphors within the lyrics, ranging from swooning atmospheres to solemn moods. From the driving melodies and roaring synths, to the subtle FX and instrumental incorporation, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Turkmen are the engine room for the groups cross-genre stance, enabling their sound to vary while heavy emotions are poured out by Alexander.
While not necessarily dancefloor, club material, the album is by far one of the most listenable electronic albums to date, with all the tracks having a degree of quality and ‘relatable-ness’, something many of today’s DJ’s and Producers are arguably grappling with. Putting ‘Communion’ is very good stance for years to come.
‘Communion’ is available at iTunes .